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There are lots of digital product options out there, but why not stick to what you know and love if you're someone who loves to write?
eBooks make incredible digital products. So on today’s episode, we’re going to talk all about writing and self-publishing one with the expert herself, Ana Savuica.
Ana knows the art of writing and self-publishing an eBook inside and out. She’s the blogger behind The She Approach, a growth strategist and coach, and she's passionate about helping bloggers increase their traffic and their income. She has over two years of experience and three successfully published eBooks.
Ana has spent months figuring out the quickest way to write an eBook, the best platforms to sell them on and the most effective strategies when it comes to increasing eBook sales.
Trust me when I say that Ana's approach works, because her last eBook debuted at number one in multiple categories on Amazon and the rest of her eBooks sell at least a copy every single day.
Ana's a wiz when it comes to self-publishing. So get ready to digest a whole lot of information coming your way.
If you haven’t seen Ana’s work, she’s the blogging growth strategist, author and coach behind The She Approach.
Ana uses her platform to help bloggers and solopreneurs grow their own visibility, boost their website traffic and increase their passive income. Her method? She uses no-fluff, actionable strategies to make sure her customers know what to do and see results.
She’s incredibly passionate about what she does, and you can see that from her background and where she comes from.
“I actually just started my blog as a CV-enriching skill for university. I've been studying media and communication, specializing in PR, but that has to do a lot with online marketing. And I just want to start a blog to kind of get an upper hand and understand the online industry a little bit better.”
Ana got so invested in her blog, she decided to turn it into her full-time business. She says, “I just got so kind of swept in the strategy, what it takes to grow a blog, what it takes to grow an audience.”
She decided to take what she’d learned throughout her experience in creating a blog and distill it into an online platform that could help other people.
“I just fell in love with the online marketing world and what I was learning and I just started sharing my findings because obviously I was doing that to learn more about online marketing.”
Ana’s business has grown quite a bit since she started. She’s done A LOT since she entered the online space.
So why did she decide to write and self-publish an eBook?
Her first reason was because of her passion for teaching. Ana wanted a better platform than her blog to share information with her audience. “With blog posts you can only teach so much. So I was dissecting these little things that I was learning and I wanted something a bit more cohesive to teach people.”
She decided on the eBook format because it gave her a better way to share information to her audience. “With an eBook, I feel like you can take people through that journey in one place and you can have it make sense because it makes a narrative sense.”
Ana’s second reason for choosing the eBook format was based on her own skills and talents. “Writing was my forte. I know a lot of people when thinking about digital products, they would rather teach through video, but it was not my thing. I was so terrified of being on video at the time that it was not even an option for me.”
She decided to start in a place that was comfortable to her because she knew it would lead to a lot of progress quickly. She still believes in the power of online courses, but felt like an eBook could do a lot more for both her readers and herself.
“eBooks hold so much power that people just don't see and it goes well beyond passive income at one point, it really makes an impact on your reader's life. And then what it does for your visibility is just astounding to me.”
As someone who has created both eBooks and online courses, Ana has a lot to say about the benefits of each. But for anyone who’s considering writing and self-publishing an eBook, Ana is ready to sing its praises.
First, eBooks can be great for passive income. While you may be able to charge a lot more for a course, Ana says it’s also important to think about the perspective of your audience while they’re shopping for digital products.
“If somebody just comes across you, even if you're not brand new, but likely just found you, how likely are they to invest? Like a $200 course versus a $30 dollar book. And people are just much more comfortable, they've never bought anything from you before, to just invest a smaller sum like eBooks are a great way to generate some passive income.”
Ana also suggests taking this a step further. After launching an eBook, you can then use it as a way to get people into your sales funnel to sell them more higher-priced items like courses.
eBooks are also a great way to build a relationship with your audience and build their trust.
Ana knows that her audience is buying her eBooks for information and actionable strategies. She focuses on strategy and action in her writing because that’s what she’s trying to sell, and knows that it will build trust and willingness in her audience to buy her more expensive products.
“People buy my eBooks and they say, OK, this makes sense to me. This is no-fluff… this is what works. This is the process. This is the strategy.”
Because of the trust she generates in her readers, Ana has had a lot of success in upselling her other digital products. Many of the people who buy her eBooks are then willing to invest in her courses or product bundles.
So if you think you’re ready to write or self-publish an eBook, where do you start? And what should you do first?
Ana says that the first step to writing an eBook has nothing to do with the actual writing process. Before you even start to write, make sure you do a lot of research on your topic, your customer and their needs.
“I think a lot of people just fall in love with an idea of the book that they want to write or the topic and they just start they dive into it, which can be great… But at the same time, they don't stop to consider if their audience needs it or their audience is going to pay for it, which is really important.”
To validate your idea, Ana suggests sending out a survey to your list or reaching out to your audience about what they’d be interested in.
She recommends that when you’re gathering feedback, avoid pushing your idea on to people. You want to make sure that you’re not limiting your audience’s responses, because then you'll only get ideas that match with your plans. To make sure you’re not doing this, you should be asking non-specific or open-ended questions to gather information.
Once you’ve decided on your topic, Ana also recommends asking people for ideas about what they’d ideally like to learn about the topic of your eBook. Asking them about their biggest struggle with the topic, for example, can be a great way of ensuring that your product is valuable to your potential customers.
Ana uses an example about her first eBook to emphasize why it’s so important to get your audience’s validation before creating your product.
“I actually had a completely different idea for my first eBook. I think it was something about guest posting. It was so in love with the idea of teaching that. And then I figured out I found out that my audience couldn't care less about it.”
Even though Ana loved her idea, she knew that ultimately she needed to create a product that her audience would be willing to buy. Don't wait until you're writing your eBook to validate your idea – doing this early will help save a lot of stress and wasted effort in the future.
Writing an eBook is a lot different than writing blog posts, so Ana recommends thinking through and outlining your narrative before you even start writing. Ana suggests thinking about the bigger picture of your eBook, because “it needs to have that kind of narrative line and a need to make sense for readers as a whole.”
A great way to go about this is thinking about where your audience is right now at the point where they are buying your eBook, and where you want to take them by the end of the eBook. “What's the process that you want them to go through or the journey you want them to experience?”
Based on that, you can outline and start to research your eBook. If you’re writing about a topic that is constantly changing, make sure you’re keeping up with any updates or news surrounding that topic.
“When I was writing my Pinterest eBook, there are so many Pinterest updates going on that I just had to keep an eye on everything, and I would just write down all the bits of research that I found that’s helpful.”
Ana also suggests going even deeper by outlining every chapter that you’re going to include in your book and what will go into each chapter. “If you have a little anecdote or story that you're going to share, just make a note of it. If you're going to put any numbers or findings or research in it, make a note of it there and just the bullet points of everything that's going on.”
When all of this is done, it’s time for you to start the writing process.
Ana says the amount of time it takes for you to write your book will depend on the size and content of what you’re writing, but there are a lot of ways to make the writing process go by quicker. For example, you can repurpose content that you’ve already written and include it in your eBook.
Ana used this strategy for her third book. “For my Amazon eBook, I pretty much repurposed a lot of the content from a free course I had and other blog posts and it was one of my smallest eBooks. It was just over 10,000 words. And for that, I think I got it done in pretty much a month.”
You can also outsource parts of this work to make the process faster. She outsourced a lot of the editing and proofreading work for her book to get it done quickly.
What helps Ana the most is setting a deadline, announcing it publicly and then being committed to sticking to it.
“I usually just really gear it up towards the end… So I was like, okay, my eBook is getting a launch on this date. So then in the next two weeks, I got done a lot of the work that I should have done until that point.”
Creating an eBook may seem like a daunting task, but one big plus is that you don’t need a lot of special tech to make it happen. Ana says that you can use really basic, everyday software on your computer to create your eBook and still make it look professional and high-quality.
For Ana’s first two eBooks, which she published on her website, she had very few tech issues. “I pretty much wrote and designed my first two eBooks in just Word, which actually works pretty great if you know a little bit of design features that are going to make it look like it's not written in Word.”
To publish her book on Amazon, Ana had to do a little bit more to make sure that the eBook format fit with the platform.
Amazon eBooks have to be delivered to Amazon in a MOBI format, to match with Amazon’s Kindle e-readers. Ana had to research and use a different software specifically when putting her eBook together to make sure it fit with Amazon’s requirements.
Ana also changed how her design format looked because she also thought through what the eBook would look like for her readers on a different platform. “I had to… think about people's experiences on a smaller screen. So I didn't include as many images. I just pretty much use a lot more text because that's what people are more comfortable with on a smaller screen.”
Ana says there are a few other things to consider when gearing up to publish and launch your eBook. Many of these are common to any type of product launch and good tips to keep in mind if you’re trying to sell any digital product.
First, you need a good email service provider and a list so you have someone to launch your product to. Engaging and interacting with your audience before your launch is essential.
Get 30 days free of ConvertKit (the email service provider that I personally use to generate income!)
“You don't have to have a massive audience, you just have to interact with your audience and build that connection other than in your blog posts, or in platforms where you can just speak to them or rather at them.”
You don’t need to pay a lot of money for your email platform, and Ana recommends using MailerLite if you need a free option, especially if you have less than a thousand subscribers. She does recommend finding a platform that has some specific functionalities, however, which will help you as your business grows in the future.
“I do recommend having a good platform that will allow you to process payments and then keep track of sales and any tax information. And I think working with affiliates is really important, but it wasn't really on my mind when I first launched my eBook that having a platform that would essentially allow you to have affiliates without you having to move everything, that's pretty important.”
Click here to try out teachable (you can use it to sell ebooks and also have affiliate functionality built in)
Even if you’re not considering affiliates for your current launch, you’ll probably get there eventually and will want that functionality. Moving across platforms is not fun, so find something that already has that built in before you even start this process.
The purpose of creating an eBook is to be able to grow, and to have some profit out of the product you create. So going into the process with a marketing strategy is essential.
Ana’s marketing strategy centers around content marketing. Prior to launch, she builds up the content on her blog and other online spaces to make sure that she can easily promote her eBook.
She emphasizes that this is “because you want people not only to find you, but you want people who already follow you to have that topic in mind. So whenever you launch it's already on their mind.”
Having your audience already know something about the topic can be a great lead-in to having them buy your product. Ana says that she’d rather have her audience in a space of “I need to look into this” instead of “just starting to educate them on the topic” as she’s launching her products.
Ana also works with affiliates to help sell more of her eBooks. “That didn't happen for like the first eBook because I was so brand new, but by the time I launched my second book I had already in place a pretty big team of affiliates and that really helped with the launch and just helped even create like evergreen leads to your eBook.”
This can be one of the best kinds of marketing, because people really trust referrals. When you have affiliates singing your praises, it’s easy to build trust with potential customers and your audience.
Ana wants to emphasize that thinking about and strategizing your launch beforehand is really important. You should never leave any of this to the last minute, because there are a lot of other details during a launch that you’ll want to be able to focus on.
“You want to leave yourself as little to do as possible. So any emails that you want to send out, any things that you want to post on social media, you want to write them beforehand. You just want to create that content and have it.”
During any product launch, you should be present and available to answer questions, connect with your audience and be there for your potential customers.
“If you can hop on any sort of live [videos], if you can interact with your audience, that's super important because it gives them a chance to chat back to you.”
Don’t wait until the last minute to strategize and plan for your launch because a lot of things can’t be left until the last minute. If you’re hoping to work with collaborators or affiliates, you’ll need to plan this out ahead of time.
“Anything that can bring you new leads before the launch and during, you just need to plan ahead of time to give other people and your collaborators, even your associates time to kind of fit that in their schedule.”
Ana says that there are some big differences between selling an eBook on your own website versus on Amazon, and you should definitely make sure you’re matching your strategy to the platform that you choose.
If you want to sell your eBook on Amazon, Ana says that the most important thing to remember is that their ranking system can really affect your eBook’s visibility and sales.
Her eBook won best seller in new releases in multiple categories relevant to what she was doing, which helped her get more visibility. Her strategy hinged on getting people to pre-order her book, which helped her to achieve this high rank on launch day.
“I found out beforehand that if you get as many pre-sales as possible on Amazon, those presales count as sales on the day of the launch. So if you get like 70 people to preorder your eBook before the launch, then Amazon… sees that as sales for that day. So then you rank higher than all the other eBooks in the category because even if they're making consistent sales, it's probably not that many sales in the day.”
If you’re launching on your own website, you probably don’t necessarily need to focus on pre-sales because your audience can buy your book anytime.
For Ana, the launch on her own website “wasn't as intense because I was selling to an audience that was already there for me, while on Amazon there's the competition. It's much more big, much bigger. So you have to kind of be a little bit creative.”
Ana says from her experience, when it comes to selling eBooks there are pros and cons to using both platforms. It depends on what type of goal you’re pursuing and what results you’re hoping to achieve.
“I use them for very specific goals, like my goal in launching my first eBooks were pretty much to increase my income while this eBook and the reason why I launched it on Amazon was to kind of increase my credibility.”
If you’re looking for more visibility and credibility, being an Amazon-published author can help a lot with this. Ana says that publishing on Amazon also helped her to generate new leads and reach people that weren’t on platforms where she was already promoting herself.
“Amazon gets a ton amount of traffic from people who might not read blogs or might not be on Pinterest, but they can get my book. So I really wanted to reach a new audience and that was like a pretty strategic approach.”
Ana also decided to create a paperback version of her book on Amazon, and was totally surprised when she started getting more paperback sales than eBook sales.
She says that “[this] shows that the audience is there and the type of people who go to Amazon to buy books is so different from people who would invest in eBooks. And I think what we're forgetting is that a lot of people are still uncomfortable with buying eBooks. It's still a new concept to them.
“While us bloggers may invest in training about blogging and online marketing and eBook format all time, but a lot of people were just starting out, they would rather just have like a physical, tangible book in their hands.”
While Amazon may help generate leads, publishing on your website may be a better option if you're looking to increase your income.
If you're charging under $9.99, Amazon only takes 30% of your profits. But if you're charging over that amount, they start taking a much bigger cut.
Choosing a platform will definitely also affect where you need to put your time and effort when it comes to launching and promoting your eBook.
Ana says that if you choose to publish on your website, “you have to work a lot harder to get sales for your own eBooks if you post them on your own platform just because you have to be in charge of driving that traffic as well.”
You’ll have an easier time on Amazon getting traffic, but Ana says that people only really start doing well when they launch multiple books to build their author profile. This then compensates for the lower profit from Amazon sales.
So which platform should you use? Considering the launch strategy, the pros and cons of each platform, your goals and what you want to get out of your launch, that’s ultimately it’s up to you to decide.
Ana has a lot more to offer over at her website, the She Approach. Check it out to find tons of resources about writing eBooks and online marketing for bloggers and solopreneurs in general.
She’s also all across social, but most active on Instagram and Pinterest. You can find her everywhere at The She Approach, or check out the links below.
//LINKS IN THE SHOW//
Visit Ana’s website – https://thesheapproach.com
Follow Ana on Instagram
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